OverviewIMPORTANT UPDATE: On May 13, 2016, a wildfire ignited on the slopes of Little Haystack, and was reported to spread across the tiny peak. Access is currently not available to the public. A further update will be provided as more information becomes available.
Little Haystack is a very minor, yet very recognizable, peak located in Snohomish County, Washington. The peak is most notably visible when heading southeast along Highway 2 from the city of Gold Bar, as the small forested knob is directly ahead in the distance. Little Haystack is seldom summited, greatly overlooked by larger and more popular peakbagging neighbors Mount Persis, Mount Index, and Haystack Mountain. However, its easy accessibility and low hiking mileage makes it a quick possible side-trip for some hardcore peakbaggers in the area.
Looking At The False Summit Hill
The term “Little Haystack” is in reference to its appearance as a small version of Haystack Mountain located immediately due west of the peak. Although no official name has ever been given to the peak, “Little Haystack” was the original name used by some of the Gold Bar area’s former pioneers and long-standing residents, including Cort Stowell (who was a lifelong resident of Gold Bar, before passing away during the 1990s), Dale & Helen VanWyk (who for many years lived on the farm found along Highway 2 at the west entrance to the city), Bill Acre (former mayor of Index), and “Zeke” (of “Zeke’s Drive In” fame; I cannot recall his last name at this time). Although the term “Little Haystack” was used by many longtime residents of the Gold Bar area during my childhood there, I personally knew each of these specific five people; they each had summited the peak during their lives and each called the peak “Little Haystack”. I mention this because during recent years original unofficial names like “Little Haystack” seem to get forgotten as pioneers pass away or move away, as I am certain is the case in many other areas of the country.
Since the 1990s (or perhaps the late 1980s), people apparently unfamiliar with the original local name began calling the mountain “TOC Rock”. “TOC Rock” is a shortened version of the name “Table Of Contents Rock”. This term perhaps gained the most recognition from its use by famous local peakbagger John Roper, and then later on other websites such as Peakbagger.com. John Roper also has this mountain on his list
of Top 10 "blob" peaks in Washington. For the creation of this Mountain page, I wanted to raise awareness about both peak names. I believed it was important to mention the newer peak name but for the older peak name to not be completely forgotten. Hence, the use of the original local name as the primary peak name.
Although many peakbaggers might consider Little Haystack to be a hill rather than a mountain, Little Haystack qualifies as an actual mountain (by Washington peakbagging standards) due to its prominence of 400’. Current USGS maps show a summit elevation having a 40-foot closed-contour between 1440’ and 1480’. However, older USGS maps show the summit elevation as 1443’. It is possible the older USGS maps referenced the rocky sub-summit rather than the forested true summit.
Little Haystack has been logged numerous times through the years. Currently, the upper slopes of the peak are covered with young evergreen forests. A lot of logging and forest debris is found on the peak, as well as a lot of groundcover plants (such as salal). Make no mistake about it; this is purely a peakbagger’s peak, and most peakbaggers would not even bother with it. There are several notable rocky cliff faces on the peak which might be good places to practice and learn rock climbing.
There is both a true summit and a false summit. Even the true summit hill has a sub-summit on it. None of the summits have views, due to surrounding trees, although some spectacular views are possible from atop a north-facing rock cliff and an east-facing rock cliff located at ~1350’ elevation on the east side of the true summit hill. The north-facing clifftop offers a great view of Zekes Peak, Ragged Ridge, and the “Sky Peaks” region of nearby Wild Sky Wilderness. The east-facing clifftop offers a great view of neighboring Mount Persis.
Thick Forests Between Summit Hills
FROM GOLD BAR, WASHINGTON:
-> Head southeast on Highway 2 approximately four miles to Forest Service Road 62 (FS-62).
-> Drive 1.2 miles to the entrance of a former branch road located on the rightside of FS-62. The road is bermed (closed to vehicles), but has enough room for parking at least one vehicle.
THE NEW ROUTE
1) The original route initially followed a bermed road. However, that road is greatly overgrown and that starting point is no longer necessary. Continue approximately 30' further along Forest Road 62 to a newer road that is easier to follow.
2) The new road leads to the base of the scramble that leads up the true summit hill. This road also provides an excellent view of the north-side cliff.
THE ORIGINAL ROUTE
1) Begin hiking along the bermed road, towards the false summit hill of Little Haystack. The road is overgrown with young deciduous trees and has become a major bushwhack, but the roadway path can be seen/followed due to its rocky/gravel imprint.
2) Keeping following the overgrown branch road until immediately east of the false summit hill, passing logging debris and steep rock cliffs of the peak in the process of doing so.
SE Cliffs Seen From Branch Road...
3) Once immediately east of the false summit hill, leave the road and briefly hike through logging debris to a mossy talus slope. Hike up the talus slope to a steep forested slope.
Mossy Talus On Eastern Slope...
4) There are several small notches from which a person can scramble up through the steep rocky upper east slopes of the false summit. Find one of those small notches, climb up through, and then hike over or around the false summit in thick evergreen forest cover. The scramble has no exposure.
5) Continue hiking WNW, down from the false summit, through a young coniferous forest, and up towards the true summit hill.
6) At approximately 1300’ elevation, another steep scramble is required. The scramble should have low exposure, depending upon exact route chosen. A couple of rocky clifftop viewpoints (mentioned earlier) are found at the top of this scramble section.
Rock Scramble At ~1300' Elevation
7) Continue hiking through thick forest to the sub-summit, which is a rocky mound that resembles a mossy pyramid shape. The sub-summit gives the impression of being at the highest point, but it actually is not.
At The Sub-Summit
8) Continue west through brush and trees to reach the true summit, which is surrounded by forest and yields no views.
HIKING DISTANCE (either route): 1.5 miles Roundtrip
There are no permits or fees necessary to visit or summit Little Haystack.
A gate is found at the entrance to FS-62 from Highway 2. The gate is under the supervision and discretion of the "Longview Fiber" company, and can be closed at any time.
There is no camping allowed on or around Little Haystack. The mountain and the nearby logging roads are under the supervision of the "Longview Fiber" company. Access to the area is granted, but only during daylight hours.